Taking a Break from Your Studies

International students studying at Designated Learning Institutions (DLI’s) in Canada such as Western University and its affiliates (King’s University College, Huron College, and Brescia College) are required to actively pursue their studies while in Canada, meaning that you are registered, enrolled, and attending your program.

If you choose to reduce your course load and become a part-time student, or take a term off and take an academic leave, we recommend that you arrange an appointment with an International Student Advisor at the International and Exchange Student Centre (IESC) at Western International to discuss your circumstances as this could impact your immigration status or ability to work in Canada while studying or after you graduate.

Steps to take

  1. Make an appointment with an academic advisor (undergraduate students) or your graduate program advisor (graduate students) about your options for reducing your course load, or taking a break and returning to your studies later.
  2. Make an appointment with an International Student Advisor at the IESC about any issues that may arise as a result of reducing your course load, or taking a break from studies.

Study Permit Implications

Should you decide to reduce your course load or take an academic leave, it will be important to consider the following:

  • Western University is required to report to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on your enrollment status twice a year. If you are taking a break from studies, your academic leave must be approved by your academic advisor or graduate advisor.
  • On-campus and off-campus employment are not permitted should you become a part-time student, or take an academic break from your studies.
  • Your ability to qualify for a post-graduate work permit after you complete your studies may be affected as you are required to demonstrate that you have been studying continuously, on a full-time basis in Canada, with the exception of your final academic term in which you may be enrolled on a part-time basis. Should you wish to apply for the postgraduate work permit, it will be at the discretion of an officer whether to grant you the permit.
  • It may be difficult for you to extend your study permit if you take a break from studies as you must demonstrate that you have been actively pursuing your studies. You will require proof that the academic leave has been approved by Western University, as well as any supporting documents such as a medical letter. An International Student Advisor can guide you further.
  • If you leave the country during your break, request a letter from your academic advisor or graduate advisor before re-entering Canada. The letter should state that you are eligible to return to your program of study at the end of your break.
  • Your study permit expires on the document’s expiry date or 90 days after you have completed your program of study, whichever comes first.